Graphic: Madi Hummer
Coming into the new year, President Donald Trump was officially impeached by the House of Representatives. The case to remove President Trump from office was brought before the Senate on Jan 21. As of Jan. 26, the hearings had been going on for five days.
This past week saw both the Democrats make their case against Trump and Trumps’ team present their defense argument.
Students around campus shared their knowledge and stance on the impeachment trials.
Domingo Franciamore, senior history and education major, said, “I have been paying attention because the last impeachment was 22 years ago. On the other hand, it is a complaint created by the Democratic party to a Republican-controlled Senate. They will be carrying out the trial process so while I am not entirely nihilistic about the process, I have my reservations.”
Franciamore, who is about to begin his student teaching in a history class, elaborated expressing how he wants to see the trial proceedings go fairly.
“I am not sure how it will turn out. If it was not done by the books, not everything was handed over, and the trial was not ‘clean’ I am not sure how OK I would be with the results if nothing is found. If the trial is clean then I would accept it,” he said.
A common worry among students was one shared by Franciamore and Jennifer Boch — that the partisan nature of the trials will impact the end verdict.
Boch, sophomore history and international relations major, said, “I have been following a decent amount of the proceedings but have not watched all of it. I know the key/main details of the process taking place. I think this case is extremely important regardless of partisanship because the process to remove the most powerful person in our democracy has been invoked. It is serious business.”
Since September, Trump has been under suspicion of having committed crimes that fall under the misdemeanor definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This means that the House of Representatives believes that President Trump committed political offenses against the community and the state as a whole.
Assistant professor of political science, Benjamin Toll explained the current process.
“The way that I think about it is like a regular trial, the House is a grand jury and the Senate is the jury trial. A grand jury decides if there is enough evidence to move forward, and the House has decided there is enough to move forward, and now the Senate decides whether there is enough to remove President Trump from office,” Toll said.
Toll stressed it is important to remember that Trump has officially been impeached; he has just not been removed from office. This means that the impeachment trial is no longer to impeach the President but instead to remove him from office.
How the Senate removes the President from office is by finding him guilty of the articles of impeachment presented by the House.
“The House is not arguing that he has committed treason. The two articles of impeachment were abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The launching off point is that the Democrats are suggesting that Trump illegally withheld aid to a country that is in the middle of a war with Russia until that country opened an investigation on a domestic rival’s family,” Toll said.
Ukraine is the country mentioned by Toll, and the case for the abuse of power article comes from Trump withholding aid with the implication that doing so personally benefited him. The obstruction of Congress comes from Trump’s decision to tell those who work with him not to provide the House with information or to testify.
The defense of Trump that has been used is that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense and that a president has to have committed a criminal action to be impeached from office.
What is important to note is that the impeachment process is not a legal trial that results in the criminal prosecution of the President.
Students weighed in on the articles of impeachment selected and how effective they could be.
Joe Gubbiotti, senior computer science and Bachelor of Science major, said, “The charges were certainly well thought out, but seemed far too vague to be as effective as they could have been. The president has done far more than what he has been charged.”
“I do not think he is going to be removed from office, and I think the Democrats shot themselves in the foot with what the articles are based on and how they are proceeding. If the trial discovers that he did do what they are claiming I think they are impeachable offenses and he should be removed,” Boch said.
Boch also expressed that she felt that there were many other options the House could have picked to use as articles of impeachment, as she felt the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not the President’s worst offenses.
Regardless of the outcome of the current trial, the many look to the 2020 political election. While the result of the trial could have a large impact, it is also important to look towards the future and decide what needs to change in a country that has an impeached President of the United States.
“I think it will not have an impact,” said Gubbiotti. “The level of election engineering that has occurred over the past few years has already solidified the political viewpoints of the electorate. The government should return to its duty of serving the citizens. Eliminating misinformation from national decisions is perhaps the most important goal for the nation. Government officials could then be elected by their qualifications rather than fear-mongering.”
Gubbiotti continued, “National healthcare as a right and not a luxury should not be a national debate. The conclusions of the scientific community should be respected by government officials, not mocked. It will be a long time before the nation heals from the lies told.”
“What I would like to see is the softening of partisanship and bridging the growing chasm in American society due to political arty and ideology,” said Franciamore.
Boch agreed with that sentiment.
“I would love to see less partisanship which has become so extreme. We are always personally attacking each other and it should not be that way. We need to be less selfish and stop isolating ourselves by party.”